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Along the Saltwise Sea by A. Deborah Baker
The Biograph Girl by William J. Mann Break the Chains by Megan E. O'Keefe
Cheddar Off Dead by Korina Moss and Erin Moon (Narrator)
The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon
Cryptid Club by Sarah Andersen
Curtain Call by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Illustrator)
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney and Stephanie Racine (Narrator)
Due or Die by Jenn McKinlay and Allyson Ryan (Narrator) Empty Smiles by Katherine Arden
Guidebook to Murder by Lynn Cahoon and Susan Boyce (Narrator)
The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs
A Killing in Costumes by Zac Bissonnette and Melanie Carey and Paul Bellatoni (Narrators)
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
Leviathan by Jason Shiga
The Liminal Zone by Junji Ito
Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape) by Carrie Jones
Manor of Dying by Kathleen Bridge and Vanessa Daniels (Narrator)
Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott and Karen White (Narrator)
The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie and Hugh Fraser (Narrator)
On This Airplane by Lourdes Heuer and Sara Palacios (Illustrations)
The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman and David McPhail (Illustrations)
Primordial by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino (Artist) and Dave Stewart (Artist)
Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette and Karissa Vacker
Sophie Go's Lonely Hearts Club by Roselle Lim and Annie Q (Narrator)
The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner and Jeremy Holmes (Illustrator)
Tumble by Celia C. PĂ©rez
Unseen Magic by Emily Lloyd-Jones
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

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5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

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The Children on the Hill: 12/31/22

The Children on the Hill

The Children on the Hill by Jennifer McMahon (2022) is the last of the pastiches I read in 2022. It is a modern retelling of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818). But honestly, it reads more like a gritty retelling of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick (1968).

In the modern day (2019), Lizzy Shelley (can we be any more obvious?) is a monster hunter. She's out looking for proof of supernatural creatures. She's after one in particular, MNSTRGRL.

In the past, the novel is about Violet and her brother and a mysterious girl her grandmother has taken in. The children live with her on the property of a sanatorium she runs.

The problem is, this book has the same parallel structure as Daisy Darker (2022) and falls in to the same traps. To make the novel seem like something wholly other than its inspiration, it has an entirely added on bit. In this case, it's the modern day monster hunter thread. Yes, Frankenstein has some of this too but not to the extent of McMahon's novel.

The second problem is the novel spends too much time trying be anything but a Frankenstein retelling. Essentially the novel ends up at war with itself. Sometimes it's a mediocre thriller set in 1978 about an old woman who has taken in three kids for obviously nefarious reasons. But in case the reader might forget that Frankenstein is the underlying inspiration, the novel will drop an obvious reference. These references are out of place in the over all feel of the novel and do nothing save for pulling the reader right out of the tenuous story.

The Children on the Hill also happens to sit on the Road Narrative Spectrum. With it being a Frankenstein pastiche, the travelers are the scarecrow (protector) and minotaur (monster) (99), though which is which is the "big" mystery of the novel. Their destination is the wildlands (99), a forest where the modern day confrontation is made. Their route is the cornfield or tkaronto, as represented by the lake where the confrontation takes place (FF).

Two stars

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